One of the benefits of the museum’s ongoing digitization is that I get to revisit many collection objects I haven’t seen for a while, without ever leaving my desk. Case in point is this sample book of wallpaper photo murals. Produced in 1976 the book contains twenty different designs that include a variety of exotic landscapes along with two op art murals. It is these last two that are of special interest as I can’t think of any other wallpaper designs to compare them to. The many different landscape shots are beautiful photographs but not that unusual for photomurals. Photomurals appeared around 1931 and Cooper Hewitt’s earliest collection dates to 1947 and contains landscapes in black and white. Many of these were available with mullions over the image so it would appear to the viewer they were looking through a window. While these look great in the black and white marketing photographs, it must have been odd to walk into someone’s living room and look through this “window” to see this fantastic landscape in black and white. But I digress.
Titled Décor No. 303 and 304 it is hard to get a handle on what this is, which is probably what intrigues me. It seems to be a perspective shot, like you’re looking down into an abyss. Parts of this look like cracked desert earth, other parts look like paint flaking off a building, maybe moss growing on a tree. The strong colors and bold patterning are definitely a sign of the times. As I said, it is a unique idea and except for possibly a few op art wallpapers I have seen nothing that compares to this.
The other op art mural in this set was produced in a similar format though it has a totally different feel. This one appears more like flames or rust and is printed in intense shades of red and orange. This one is also shown in an in situ photo so you can get a sense of how it would look in your home. Groovy furnishings not included.